Arizona’s prosperity can be attributed to many factors, including our sunshine, low taxes, business-friendly climate, and our stewardship of our abundant natural resources, but Arizona also owes its success to its reasonable energy policies.
Arizona’s electricity and natural gas systems have reliably kept air conditioners running in the summer and the heat on in the winter. While Arizona has historically embraced thoughtful and balanced energy policy, out-of-state organizations and Democrats in Washington, D.C., are actively working to undo Arizona’s success and remake our state in the failed image of California.
Arizonans have the unique benefit of witnessing firsthand the missteps and failures of California’s rush-to-green energy policies without having to suffer the consequences.
Over the past decade, California’s electricity rates soared more than seven times higher than the rest of the country. The resulting revenue supported unreliable energy sources while ignoring more reliable sources such as natural gas and nuclear power. California’s electric grid has also demonstrated its limitations. California moved to ban the sale of gasoline-powered cars by 2035 and has actively encouraged people to transition to electric vehicles, yet during a heat wave earlier this year, California asked EV owners to limit how much they charge their cars to protect the strained grid. Lawmakers in California are now looking to further drain the electricity grid and consumers’ wallets by restricting the use of clean burning natural gas.
In September 2022, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) banned the sale of natural gas furnaces and water heaters by 2030. In the same month, in another attempt to take away consumer choice to use natural gas, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) mandated that new natural gas users pay the entirety of the pipeline that brings the gas to the house or business upfront, rather than allowing customers to pay over a period of time, as they can for electric and water. Ironically, these policies were enacted the same month that California state officials asked residents to limit their use of large electric appliances.
Meanwhile, in stark contrast to California, Arizonans have benefitted from an all-of-the-above energy approach that has kept energy both reliable and affordable for consumers. Arizona was the first state in the country to ensure local governments could not limit consumers’ energy choice. Yet now, out-of-state organizations are pushing for Arizona to adopt the same failed policies as California.
These organizations are pushing to make Arizona the second state, behind California, to ban construction allowances for natural gas utilities, starting with Southwest Gas in their current rate case. They are also proposing new regulations that would create more bureaucratic red tape for the utility, hindering their ability to extend and replace natural gas pipeline infrastructure. If approved, most construction projects would have to be evaluated by the Arizona Corporation Commission against “non-pipeline alternatives.” These non-pipeline alternatives include not replacing old gas lines that require upgrades, which would create a safety hazard for our communities, as well as mandated electrification of buildings even if a customer wants natural gas service.
These proposals represent the worst of partisan energy policies that hurt consumers in the name of politics. We have seen the catastrophic effects of these policies in our neighbor, California. Arizona should see these policies for what they are and resoundingly reject them.
At the federal level, Republicans have retaken control in the U.S. House. I am committed to working with my Energy and Commerce Committee colleagues to defend our nation against far-left special interest groups and rushed Green New Deal policies that would turn Arizona and the rest of our nation into California. Instead, I will work to advance an all-of-the-above energy strategy at the national level that protects consumer choice, invests in reliable energy sources, and brings down costs for Arizonans.
U.S. Rep. Debbie Lesko represents Arizona’s 8th Congressional District.